According to motivational speaker Les Brown, there are three things that are stopping most of us from achieving what we want in life. These things are:
- our habits
- our fears; and
- other people’s opinions of us.
Your habits are what you do repeatedly. As you may already know, our brains like routines. The action of doing anything over and over again, in response to stimuli, builds up connections in our brains. The more we then use those connections, the stronger they become and the easier it is for us to take the action the next time and the next time, so on.
As the main organ for ensuring our survival, brains are always striving to be efficient. Therefore, most of us have built-in automatic reactions to most of the things that we routinely encounter. This is so because the brain is always striving to have quick responses to stimulus, because we never really know when our lives may depend on it. This is why it can be so difficult to break the ‘bad’ habits that we have. As anyone who has ever tried to change knows, trying to stop doing something is almost impossible. Trying to help our brains unlearn what is basically a survival mechanism is a waste of time.
Instead, if we want to ensure that our habits are supporting our growth and development rather than stalling it, then we need to develop new habits. We need to start doing the thing that we would prefer to have as our innate reaction. The more we repeat that, then the more natural it will begin to feel and ultimately it will become easier to choose. Over time it will become the new pattern of behavior that is associated with the stimuli. New neural pathways would have been formed.
Most people are afraid of the future outcomes of their current actions. Some of us are afraid that we will have strong negative outcomes to our efforts. Some others are afraid that they will have strong positive outcomes to their efforts. In short, some people are afraid of failure and some are afraid of success.
In either situation, most of us are worried about being overwhelmed by the circumstances that we will encounter. We are afraid that we are not up to the task of dealing with the things that will come our way. The most important part of our fears that most of us forget, is the fact that our fears are not present. They are feelings or responses to imagined, future realities.
We therefore have the potential to change our reactions to the factors when we actually encounter them. We can choose to change our perspective. We can decide that we will not face the situation with fear in our hearts. Instead we can choose to be curious. We can choose to not see failure as an endpoint but rather as a stepping stone.
Other People’s Opinions
You are the only one who has the right to decide who you are going to be. You are also the only one who decides whether you will listen or accept what others say about you. You do not have to allow someone else’s opinion of you to become your reality. The number of people who have done things that others thought would be impossible for them to achieve, is remarkable.
Therefore it is a well known fact that you do not have to accept the message when someone tells you that something is hard, or impossible. You can smile politely and move on. Many of the people who share these negative perspectives are doing it out of love because they have your best interest at heart. Often they are trying to spare you from the heartbreak or disappointment that they see coming down the road. However, just because they have good intentions, that does not make them right.
You can decide that you are not going to listen to other people’s opinions or allow them to influence how you see yourself and your capabilities. You have the power to stop doing that. You can decide to create an inner monologue that develops and reinforces positive perceptions of yourself and what you know that you are capable of achieving. You can choose to change your mindset and develop a new self image of a powerful, accomplished individual who is capable, curious and willing to learn.
These are some of the strategies that you can use to help you move out of the thinking patterns that are holding you locked in a place where you pay attention to what others think about you and your life.
Marjorie Wharton is a trainer, facilitator and coach who works with individuals and organizations to help them improve their performance. She is based at the Sagicor Cave Hill School of Business in Barbados. Follow her on twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. For more of her writing visit https://marjoriewharton.live